Philippines 2000

Wagner Reunion in San Diego, Trip to Clark Air Base

knolls California desert knolls in distance behind Clyde's parents' house.

Tuesday, October 24, 2000:  I hauled myself out of bed around 4:30 a.m. to go over my final "punch list" of items to complete before leaving home for six weeks (paying bills, notifying friends and family, etc.) Even though Clyde was already in California and not home to keep me organized, I was awake enough to remember to roll up our silk carpet in the basement which we purchased in Singapore years ago. That was a fitting way to kick off another Asia trip for us. Our next door neighbor, Jason, generously drove me to the airport as we discussed Calvinist theology and predestination of the elect (I'll do my best to buckle in next to one of the elect on my Southwest Airlines flight). As I buried my nose in William Ian Miller's book, The Mystery of Courage, I recalled that, when Clyde and I visited Corregidor on our last trip, Japanese and American tourists had separate tours. Miller noted that American soldiers were cited for courage in the face of Japanese fanaticism. Did Japanese military citations refer to Americans as fanatics? When I arrived in Ontario, California, Clyde and his parents met me at the gate, and we lunched at the Home Town Buffet. Clyde's father always knows where to find a good bargain lunch experience. When we got to Apple Valley, Clyde and I hiked to the top of a cool and windy knoll to view the town and the surrounding rocky hills of the High Desert. After dinner, I stayed up late talking with Clyde and his family, sharing stories and catching up on news. His father uses portable oxygen now for breathing.

family Diane's husband Steve Flannery with Kathy's daughter Stephanie and Clyde's father and mother in their home in Apple Valley, California.

Wednesday, October 25, 2000: Today is Clyde's birthday! His parents treated us and his sister, Diane, to lunch at Bistro Luna, which is a very good restaurant in Victorville. We stopped by J.F. Flannery Company and spent the afternoon visiting with Diane's grown children, Eve, Kathy, and Joe. Kathy was recovering from a bad automobile accident which she and her children suffered while in Guatemala. Joe was getting ready to move in with friends in Anaheim. Eve was taking care of the family store while her father, Steve Flannery, was out of town. We spent time trading stories, and Kathy gave us current school photos of her kids, Stephanie and Jonathan. Joe gave us his permanent e-mail address so that we could contact him more easily once he moves out on his own.

Clark terminal The Clark Air Base terminal is now planned to be Clark International Airport.

Hearing about Kathy's accident made me realize how hazardous travel can be. We heard about political unrest in the Philippines, with thousands marching in Manila to demand the resignation of President Estrada. A 6.5 earthquake just struck Jakarta, and a few more hostages were released in Jolo, in the southern Philippines. If you only know the Philippines from the media, it sounds like just one natural or man-made disaster after another. Fortunately, we know better, though we did prepare for exposure to malaria by taking our first Larium capsules today. It's a ritual that reminds me of our first trip to the Philippines 8 years ago.

Clark terminal Wagner High alumni gathered at Clark's flight arrival area.

Thursday, October 26, 2000:  Clyde's parents and we piled in to the old Mercury this morning with Bill's oxygen tanks and all our luggage, for a trip first to the Veterans Administration Hospital in Loma Linda where Bill will receive treatment. When we arrived in Loma Linda, we waited over two hours for Bill's appointment at the VA clinic. I exhausted their supply of old magazines while Clyde redeemed the time by finding out where his father could get a flu shot on the premises. Afterwards, we drove to San Diego for Clyde's Wagner High School Reunion, arriving at the Econolodge on Hotel Circle in San Diego, after contending with heavy traffic and inadequate directions. Clyde's relatives, Jim and Linda Sparks, joined us for dinner at the Pam-Pam Grille next door to the hotel. After dinner, Jim gave us lift to the home of our friends, Ladonna Green and Pat Everett. They have a little home church called the Master's Forge. Clyde and I were ready to camp out in the pastor's office which was an unfurnished upstairs room. It was so much like our first night in Hong Kong eight years ago:  anxious about plans, loose ends, and protecting and arranging our bags of "stuff", all lonely and exciting at the same time.

mural Duckie playing Vanna with Wagner Middle School mural.

Friday, October 27, 2000:  Our hosts gave us a lift to the Bahia Hotel were we met the Wagner High School reunion folks, including Bill and Lori Gardner, who have been working for Wycliffe Bible Translators in Mozambique with their two boys, Jonathan and Michael. We spent time in the hospitality suite on the 3rd floor and visited on balcony, despite the uncharacteristically cool and rainy weather that day. Clyde's classmate, Duckie, joined the four of us for lunch down the street at Jack in the Box, and then for a long walk and conversation down Mission Beach. We did finally pay $50.00 each to register for Friday night's banquet and met more of the reunion crowd, including Dary Matera, Mike Ward, Barbara Wilson and her husband Dave, and, of course, John Prunier who has organized the trip. We met a former teacher at Wagner, Roberta Tucker, who enjoyed seeing her former students. John Prunier's brother, Bill, sang at dinner that evening. We also met Debbie Randle whose luggage was stolen in Las Vegas before she arrived in San Diego. Though she was distraught about the theft, she decided to continue with her plan to take the tour to Manila.

Wagner view View from behind Wagner High School where jungle used to be.

Saturday, October 28, 2000:  We spent the day hanging around the Bahia and talking with people. I met a VFW elder, Eugene, as well as Leslie and Carla (two of Clyde's classmates). The Wagner folks invited us to join in for the barbecue luncheon, and, because many of the attendees were off touring San Diego, there was plenty of food to go around. After lunch, Clyde and I strolled along the grassy Marina and watched a water volleyball game played in kayaks. That evening, Pat and Ladonna took us to the San Diego Maritime Museum mainly because I really love maritime museums. We all had fun exploring an opulent steam-powered yacht, full of polished wood and brass, the old retired ferry (the Berkeley), and we saw the Star of India -- a tri-masted British ship built in 1863, though outfitted that evening as a "haunted house" for Halloween. At the Bahia, Johnny Prunier told us that the Rajah Tour company was now charging almost double the amount they had agreed upon, ostensibly due to cancellations, so it's just as well that we didn't sign up for the tour package. We didn't realize then that the tour would have bigger financial problems down the line. Still, we were glad for the discounted fare on Korean Airlines. Otherwise, we would have had to settle for passage more like the Star of India!

base hotel The first place Clyde stayed at Clark, the base hotel is now used as a hospital.

Sunday, October 29, 2000:  It's once again a sunny day in San Diego and we're eager to leave for the Philippines. We wished Pat Everett a happy 48th birthday today and took our bags to the Bahia for the bus ride to LAX tonight. The great thing about reunions is that you can spend the whole day productively just saying extended farewells to all your friends. We watched the harbor seals frolicking in the hotel "seal recovery" pool, and I read Plato's dialogue, Charmides, while keeping an eye on our small mountain of luggage in the lobby. Clyde attended an emergency meeting for those of us traveling on to Manila - to discuss the sudden tour cost increase. We said farewell to Bill and Lori Gardner who will be moving to Kenya next year. By 4:00 p.m., about 28 or 30 of us packed into three Cloud Nine shuttle vans and rolled up the rainy highway for a two hour trip up to LAX. We arrived at LAX about 7:00 p.m., but the Korean Airlines check-in didn't open until 8:30 p.m. In fact, our flight to Seoul didn't depart until midnight, so we all had plenty of time to soak up the ambience of LAX. I scouted out some hot pizza in the terminal for Clyde and myself and we waited for our midnight flight.

base hospital Wagner group viewing what used to be the base hospital, which is now only an empty shell.

Monday, October 30, 2000:  Somewhere over the Pacific...we got a few hours of sleep after dinner and then drowsily chatted with the other Wagner alumni during the day/night of the cabin. I think that we lost a day somewhere over the ocean. When I wasn't napping, I spent my time reading about mystical contemplation in The Cloud of Unknowing and meditating on how hard it is to successfully transcend one's physical body above the clouds while cramped into a tourist class seat. When we touched down at Kimpo airport, Seoul, after 13 hours, at 6:45 a.m. on Oct. 31st, we saw the sun rise over Seoul at the airport and got a wake-up taste of bright high-tech Korean TV commercials.

Martin at Koala Hotel Martin making travel plans in our room at the Koala Hotel, Angeles City.

Tuesday, October 31, 2000:  It's Halloween and a 17th anniversary today for Clyde and myself. After a 3 1/2 hour flight, we arrived in Manila. Because Clyde and I didn't sign up with Rajah (pronounced "raw job") Tours, we were on our own in Manila. We did see Rajah welcome the Wagner folks, and, while it wasn't exactly a hostage-taking incident, our friends did look a bit like a captive audience. We wished them well as Clyde and I, together with Dary Matera and Mike Ward (the official tour nonconformists) started looking for a driver to take us to Angeles. Mike was diligent but pretty demanding, so the negotiations took about an hour of argument and debate with various drivers before we got underway. Dary secured another passenger to share the cost, a returning Filipina named Gloria. Because All Saints Day was the next day, the traffic heading out of Manila was heavy. Also, a typhoon a few days ago had flooded local rice fields, making the road look like a ribbon across a muddy inland sea. Our car was moving so slowly that Mike could get out to take photographs while keeping pace with our vehicle. After detouring around flooded-out bridges, we found lodging in Angeles at the Koala Hotel next to the Swagman hotel where Dary and Mike stayed. For 700 pesos (about $14.00 per night), our accommodations, which included a refrigerator and a gas stove were great and more affordable than paying $65.00 at the Holiday Inn Resort with the Wagnerites on Clark Air Base. We were exhausted but satisfied with our first day of excursion.

Prudential Bank The bank building down the street from base hotel is being refurbished.

Wednesday, November 1, 2000:  It's All Saints Day in Angeles. Crowing roosters, clicking geckos, and strange bird calls greeted us this morning, along with a brownout. Temporarily without power, Clyde and I made plans for our trip. We do our best exploring on foot, so, after saying "hello" to Mike Ward at the Swagman, we walked down MacArthur Blvd. for Shanghai rolls, rice, and pineapple juice at Jollibees. We then hiked to the main gate of the Clark Ecozone for a 5 peso (10 cent) bus ride to the heart of the base:  sentimental turf for Clyde. Neither of us had much problem with jet lag. We sat in the old Chapel 2 where he was confirmed years ago in the Lutheran Church. Later that afternoon, we met the other Wagner alumni at the Holiday Inn Resort which we "adopted" - along with a garden gazebo we found (and which I christened the "gaZuber") as our special spot.

FM Hill FM hill located behind Wagner Middle and High Schools.

Clyde joined the alumni for a nostalgic bus ride to the old Wagner High School which had once been buried by the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo. Brian Cain was the first one of the group to see and greet us. That evening, as we looked around the base for dinner, we found the Red Crab which had very good seafood. The exchange rate was about 50 pesos to the dollar, so everything was a bargain. We sat out on the parade ground bleachers afterwards at dusk. We saw Dary Matera during dinner and afterwards and we visited for awhile. We took a few jeepney rides and arrived back at the Koala Court at 9:00 p.m.

Masbangs Bert, Precy, and Lida Masbang with Clyde at the Koala Hotel.

Thursday, November 2, 2000:  We got up early to use the shower, just in case a power brownout would rob us of hot water again. We spent several hours discussing our trip and ideas for travel before going over to Clark Air Base, where we took the wrong base bus for an unexpected but interesting tour of Air Force City (housing for the Philippines Air Force). We got off the bus, oriented ourselves, and trekked across the duty-free zone. We were both surprised to see a huge white mushroom cloud looming hundreds of feet into the sky from the crater of Mt. Pinatubo. We figured out that it was vented steam and not an eruption, but the sight was arresting. After shopping and touching base with our Wagner friends, we went back to our hotel for a lunch of chicken fried rice. The Wagner folks lunched on base at the Four Seasons Restaurant (formerly the base morgue, making good use of the freezers). Tropical Storm Bebinca was upgraded to a typhoon and was predicted to hit Manila very soon. We wanted to see Clyde's family friends, the Masbangs, today, but Lida Masbang (wisely) did not want to travel from San Fernando to Angeles with a typhoon in the forecast, so we delayed our get-together.

Kelly Cafeteria The Kelly Cafeteria is now a Philippine Air Force commissary. One of Clyde's earliest memories on Clark was it being boarded up for an incoming typhoon.

Friday, November 3, 2000:  Tropical storm Bebinca was renamed Typhoon Seniang. Those typhoon rains and winds hit hard this morning, and we lost our electricity by 8:15 a.m. Rather than ponder the storm in the dark, we went out to the open-air foyer of our hotel for refreshments and sipped our tea as the typhoon raged around us, knocking over and flipping pool side umbrellas and bending trees to the ground. Though we've enjoyed touring Clark with the Wagner alumni, we're making plans for our own tour over the next few weeks. I took time during the storm to do research and planning for an Ethical Practice course I plan to teach next Spring.

cemetery Clark cemetery with view of Mt. Arayat.

Saturday, November 4, 2000:  At 8:00 a.m. this morning, we went onto Clark Air Base but we couldn't get a bus - they were full of base employees. We started hiking into the base, and we passed the Philippine and American cemetery - one of the two places in the Philippines where the American flag still flies. Finally, at a bus stop, a jeepney picked us up.

Chapel 1 Chapel 1 meeting rooms and garden.

We visited Chapel 1 and the Kelly Cafeteria. We phoned Bert Masbang while we were at the Holiday Inn Resort about 9:00 a.m. and arranged to meet the Masbangs at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday afternoon at the Koala Hotel. We got together with the Wagner alumni and we both accompanied them on a bus tour around the base, including Wagner High School.

Chapel 1 Chapel 1 sanctuary is now a Catholic church.

The old school looked abandoned, though I understand that it is still being used in some capacity. Like the ruins of Pompeii (or maybe more like a Mayan excavation emerging from the jungle), the middle school campus next to the high school is adorned with murals probably painted by students in the 80s.

WMS office Mural across from Wagner Middle School office.

We then left the tour and hiked in the direction of Clyde's old neighborhood, now blocked by an upscale golf course and a number of fences. Undeterred, we found a crack in the hillside road, dropped down through it, and crawled under the fence and onto the golf course. However, we never found our northwest passage to Clyde's old neighborhood. A security guard in a golf cart figured out that we were not golfers and generously gave us lift back to the Holiday Inn Resort. We had dinner at the Swagman Hotel and found the ATMs were off-line. "Off line" became my mantra for coping with technology in some parts of the Philippines and keeping a Good Attitude.

inside Chapel 1 Inside view of Chapel 1.

band/chorus room Wagner band and chorus room.

WMS mural Martin and Duckie pose next to another WMS mural.

WMS field View of the overgrown field where Clyde played kick ball in sixth grade. This is the end of WMS farthest away from the high school.

window bars The windows of the school have been replaced by metal bars.

WMS wing Wagner Middle School wing which is furthest from Wagner High. This slope in the sidewalk was a favorite place for pranksters to place "watusi" fireworks that ignited by friction on student shoes.

Masbangs Bert, Precy, and Lida Masbang with Clyde at the Koala Hotel.

Masbangs Martin with Bert, Precy, and Lida Masbang at the Koala Hotel.

Sunday, November 5, 2000:  Clyde and I wind up spending much of our travels hiking around new places, discussing our ever-changing tour plans, or conversing with people we meet. So, true to form, we spent most of Sunday morning planning a trip to Northern Luzon, including the ancient rice terraces (the "8th Wonder of the World"). We talked with the Masbangs for about an hour and a half that afternoon, then they took us to an Equitable ATM but it wasn't working ("off line"). All the jeepneys in town were trying to cross MacArthur Blvd. at the same time because two other bridges were closed due to flooding from the typhoon. We stopped at Holy Rosary Church for the evening mass, but it was already packed to standing room only.

Kelly Theater The outside of Kelly Theater still shows the damage caused by Mt. Pinatubo.

Kelly Theater Inside view of Kelly Theater.

Monday, November 6 , 2000:  We hopped onto a packed jeepney to Angeles City this morning and visited the Equitable Bank for a cash advance so that we could settle our account at the Koala Hotel. We then went to Clark Air Base one last time to see the Base Museum which was closed due to a local brownout in the museum ("off line"). Undaunted, we later returned with some charm and a pair of flashlights and convinced the museum folks to allow us to tour of the exhibits, including the special Wagner alumni exhibit. Afterwards, we snuck through the employee entrance in the back of the Holiday Inn Resort and phoned Precy and a local philosopher, Dr. Archimedes David, at Angeles university. We met the Wagnerians who are dressed up for a charity function called "Books for the Barrio" - Brian Cain was dressed up in a barong - Filipino formal wear. We stopped at the Avis desk and reserved a car and driver for a trip to Banaue and the rice terraces for tomorrow. We met Precy and her nieces at 5:30 p.m. and gave her our luggage to keep while we were in Banaue. Precy's niece insisted that she could have gotten us a better deal than we obtained through Avis, but we were satisfied with the arrangements, and, besides the contract was already signed. We had dinner at the red-and-white Mars restaurant, and we planned to get up at 4:00 a.m. tomorrow morning to get an early start on our trip north.

Bobbit Theater

The newer Bobbit Theater is now a night club.

Continue with The Philippines 2000:   Banaue and San Fernando (page 2 of 4).

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Original Photographs, Artwork, and Literary Compositions Copyright © Clyde Zuber and Martin Fowler-All Rights Reserved.